NHS billions ‘wasted on compensation’
The “spiralling cost” of compensation claims against the NHS far outstrips funding pledges from the political parties, according to the Medical Defence Union (MDU).
Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have all made funding pledges ahead of May’s general election, with the Liberal promising £8bn for the NHS in the next parliament.
But the MDU, the UK's leading provider of medical indemnity, said today that the NHS's potential liabilities for clinical negligence claims stands at more than £25bn.
It says one solution to the problem of NHS resourcing would be for the government to tackle the rapidly rising cost of NHS compensation awards.
Dr Christine Tomkins, MDU chief executive, said:
"The extra funding being pledged by political parties is very welcome, but when you consider that the NHS has potential liabilities of £25.6bn, and that clinical negligence claims inflation is rising at 10% each year, we think the government should take action now to stop money pouring out of the NHS in compensation payments.
"Billions of pounds could be saved through legal reforms including repeal of a 1948 law, which currently requires compensation to be calculated on the basis that the patient's future care will be provided privately, rather than through public providers of health and social care.
“Two MDU-commissioned ComRes surveys of 2,070 members of the public and 150 MPs and an MDU survey of 220 doctors found that 73% of MPs, 67% of the public and 88% of doctors think if patients were negligently harmed as a result of NHS treatment, they should receive enough money to cover their health and social care needs provided by the NHS and local authority, rather than by private medical and social care.
The MDU is campaigning for a fairer system of compensating injured patients including a new independent body to decide on the correct level of care a patient needs which should be provided to all patients, not just those who can prove negligence.
"Litigation against the NHS places a huge strain on resources,” said Dr Tomkins.
“Under the current system billions of pounds of NHS funds are being used to set up one-person private care arrangements for negligently damaged patients, diverting resources from NHS care.
"The majority of the public, MPs and doctors agree that injured patients’ future care could be provided by the NHS, rather than privately.”